Friday, December 20, 2013


Behind me:

Three classes of final exams and papers.  Grades are calculated and Submitted.  Semester completed.

Ahead of me:

Reading books and writing my paper on Che Guevara and masculinity for the AHA, and page proofs for Mothers Making Latin America.  Due January 5 and 7, respectively.  Oh, and the kids are off for the next week and a half while all this needs to get done.  Fun times!

I plan to take the week of January 6-10 off, if the proofs are done by then. 

In this moment: I think it's time to bake holiday goodies for family. Or get on the yoga mat.  Che can wait until tomorrow.

What straddling does life have you doing these days?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

From Where I Sit

We're entering finals, and the AHA is in less than a month (and I haven't even started my paper). Thus, I am spending a lot of time in my office, reading and grading. It's just a basement office, but when I stop to notice, it does have some good views.  There is a pretty new mug from here that Howard got me recently.  The walls hold art that ranges from kid art to Guayasamin.  And the bookcase facing my reading chair holds photos and images from and by those I love dearly. (The drawing is one that Sam did when I was pregnant with Anya, and it includes "the baby" incredibly cute. He was 3 1/2 at the time.)  

I still want a "grading gnome" to do all this work for me (thanks for the idea, Khadija!) and I might not like the pressures of the moment...but it could be worse. At least I have good digs for working! 

Now, if that messy file cabinet in the corner would just magically clean itself...or maybe the gnome could take care of that too???

Monday, December 9, 2013


I suppose it's become kind of a ritual for me, blogging on the anniversary of my Dad's death. Today marks four years.

When I did Dad's eulogy, I ended with an poem by St. John Chrysostom (adapted for gender):

He whom we love and lose
is no longer where he was before
He is now
wherever we are

My Dad is with me when:
1) I see the shade of baby blue that reminds me of his eyes
2) I look at my son, who looks so much like Dad
3) I eat strawberry shortcake 
4) I am stubborn (um, way too often)
5) I seek fairness
6) I take delight in cooking
7) I see the birds that he taught me to recognize when I was a kid

I suppose that the best we can hope for is to be remembered fondly once we are gone.  I think many "important" people don't make this cut.  My Dad, ordinary bloke that he was, did.    

Saturday, December 7, 2013

We did it!

I looked around the house one evening this past week and realized: we did it.  The semester is coming to a close (three more class days!), and the house has remained pretty well organized and clean throughout.  It's not perfect, of course.  Blankets are often strewn on living room furniture after use.  Papers find their way to surfaces where they don't belong.  But they don't do so constantly, and they get put away before more mess piles on top of them.  We've also made the commitment to clean the house every week.  

Anya has done a particularly amazing job keeping her room organized once we opened up a closet and put most of her toys on the shelves in it.  (Samuel's room is another story.  He's teaching me about letting go of complete control over the house.)

And it's worth it.  When I walk through this house, and when I return home to it at the end of the day, I feel calmer.  Centered. Grounded.  Less stressed.  Home has returned to being a haven after a long day, rather than yet another source of tension.  

What makes your home feel like a haven?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Quote of a Quote of a Quote

While re-reading Tony Lucero's "Barricades and Articulations" from Clark and Becker's Highland Indians and the State in Modern Ecuador (U Pitt, 2007), I read:

"Stuart Hall quotes Gramsci's injunction 'Turn your face violently toward things as they exist now,' then continues in his own words, 'Not as you'd like them to be, not as you think they were ten years ago, not as they're written about in the sacred texts, but as they really are: the contradictory, stony ground of the present conjuncture.'"

Tony was writing about indigenous movements in contemporary Ecuador and Bolivia, but this kind of idea is one that I encounter repeatedly these days--in both my professional and personal readings.  Perhaps I read it often before, and it's just sinking in now because I am open to its rich possibilities.  I am working to live on the stony ground of the present conjuncture.

What quotes are you loving lately?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgivukkah 2014

Much of my day was filled with cooking and baking. The kids wanted cookies for dessert, so I made sure that at least some of them remind me of this holiday season and made sugar and spice cookies.  Years ago (almost 10 years ago now), my mother gave me a booklet of her favorite (baking) recipes.  Sugar and spice cookies were/are always around my home of origin at the holidays, and they were Dad's favorite cookie in the world.  Even Anya tried them this year and declared them to be good.

Otherwise: we hung out.  We read and watched movies and listened to one of the Harry Potter books on CD by firelight. The kids played with legos--Sam in the morning (he got R2D2 put together in record time, I think) and Anya in the evening.  I knit a little here and there.

There was a time that I felt that we "should" have people over, or go somewhere, for Thanksgiving.  But over time I've come to love and appreciate how we have made this day our own, and how it brings slow quiet into a hectic time of year.  The rest of the weekend we will enjoy the company of dear friends.  For Thanksgiving we had each other, and it was enough.  I am thankful.

Hoping you all had a lovely day too!  What's your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Following Fall

Life continues at a hectic pace, but (perhaps despite myself) I find myself falling into the delights of fall.  Looking up to see the beauty of trees and sky as the weather slowly and unevenly shifts from crisp to cold. Drinking numerous cups of tea and coffee (in favorite mugs, of course).  Cooking hearty foods like pancakes and root vegetables.  Wondering at how the light in my house changes with the seasons (it catches me every year, somehow).  I am particularly surprised by how these shorter days can, for brief periods, bring more light into my house because the leaves are mostly off the trees now.  

How are you following the season?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

New Old Space

Until this year, we've had a "basement playroom" in the house.  It's gone through a couple of phases in these 10 years, but in the past few years it was not getting much regular use.  In short: the kids were mostly outgrowing "play" space, and they preferred having the "best" toys accessible in their rooms.  

So, this year it was time to refresh and re-think.  The central basement area (our offices are also down there) is now a craft/homework/computer/relaxation area.  There's a fresh coat of paint (love that blue), and a good (expandable!) table for arts, crafts, and homework.  There's a spot for the computer, and a desk for either homework or--should I ever get time to learn--sewing. There's plenty of space for art supplies and games, and still a few toys.  And I have to say: I love having such nice space for yarn and knitting supplies.

The kids weren't sure about this vision of mine at first, but they seem to be taking to it now.  Our final addition of the chairs--comfy, but light enough to move around easily--seems to have cinched it.  

This space has gone from one of my least favorite in the house to one that makes me happy even if I'm just passing through it.

How are you re-envisioning space these days?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Grocery List Strikes Again

Anya has taken, on occasion, to eating raw leaves of red cabbage. We're out, so she's added it to the grocery list with a picture.  

Maybe I'm getting through to her just a little, despite her ongoing love affair with pizza???

What a journey it is with our children...

Monday, November 4, 2013


Today on my morning walk (and waiting for trains on platforms) was the first time this year that the air tasted like winter.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Current Reading

My life is always filled with books, both for work and for pleasure.  This sometimes, but not always, has the result of making work pleasurable.

Currently on the docket:

In the middle of discussing The Myth of Jose Marti with my colloquium, exploring Cuban nationalism through its foundation myths.  We're also in the midst of Que Vivan los Tamales, a fun and useful book that looks at Mexican national identity through food.  Up soon: Unequal Cures, which is a fabulous book on public health, race, and gender in early twentieth-century Bolivia.  Okay, all pretty heady stuff, but hey: it's a capstone course on nation-state formation in Latin America.  This is what you get.

In my modern Latin American survey, we're set to discuss Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries.  I presume much of the class will enjoy it.  I find Che annoyingly sexist and bourgeois in it.  Later in his life, I find him annoyingly sexist and an ongoing intellectual elitist despite his commitment to revolutionary principles.  

At home, the fare is lighter:
I am almost done with The Orchardist, which I've found an absorbing read.  Not the best novel of my life (or even year), but definitely engaging.  Next for me: The Christmas Kid and Other Brooklyn Stories.  Hopefully that will be good.  

I'm also liking the simplicity of Terry Walters, Clean Food, which I bought last summer.  

The kids and I just started the the last School of Fear book, and I am looking forward to the next Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place book.  I'd like to find a good book on CD to listen to with them as the nights grow longer and colder.  

Anya just finished her first Molly Moon book, and she's looking forward to more, while Samuel finally finished Under Wildwood and is now reading Winter Dance--a nice little book about running the Iditarod.  

As far as I know, Howard is still reading drek.  

What are you reading these days?  Any suggestions on books I might want to give a try?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Letting Go

I should start this post by admitting: I don't let go easily.  I'm learning, but it does not come naturally to me.  I cling.  I try to retain.  I whine.  I bemoan.  I struggle to recapture.  

Thus, I have to remind myself (constantly) to breathe in, breathe out...and let it be.  Let go.

This summer, in the midst of a year of much upheaval and travel, I found myself feeling constantly disjointed and distracted.  I realized that, ever since we bought the house in Maine, I'd been dreaming and agonizing over the possibility of moving there.  I felt too torn.  At the same time, I began to realize that as much as I love Rockland, it was a bit too far from people we love, and not the right kind of school system, for my family to move there permanently.  

So we decided to put the house on the market and let fate decide.  It was under agreement within a month, and it sold yesterday.  Fate spoke loudly.

I'm still kind of in shock that it's gone, but...deep down, I know it's the right thing for us to do.  We might still move to Maine someday, but probably closer to Portland.  Meantime, we are in one place, which we all--I most of all--need right now, I think.  

So, goodbye my beloved little house, and see you later Rockland. 

And now greetings to:

  • living fully in this house, in this place.
  • working on living my values and dreams where I am 
  • seeking the next step/s with patience and heart.